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NetApp workers go bald to show support for pediatric cancer patients

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Paige Miskin, an analyst at data managing company NetApp, felt the clippers buzz against her scalp and watched her brown locks fall to the ground as a crowd cheered on.

Miskin and a dozen other NetApp employees got their heads shaved at a recent fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that funds pediatric cancer research and is known for its head-shaving events, often at local pubs, that get individuals bald to show support for kids fighting cancer.

“I was in shock while it was happening, but I was looking into the sea of people and seeing how proud they were of me,” said Miskin, the only female NetApp participant.

More than 400 family, friends, co-workers and supporters filled Iris Lounge restaurant in McLean to watch 50 volunteers from the community and the company get their scalps buzzed. It was the third year NetApp has organized the event.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” said Adam Mellor, event organizer and an account manager at NetApp. “You can go throughout the day and complain about the dumbest things but when you put it in perspective, think of the kids who are battling cancer and have to get a CT Scan every 90 days.”

The event raised $112,000 through a silent auction, sponsorships and donations, which the foundation will use toward its biannual research grants.

“We get a lot of corporate involvement but it’s great how NetApp brings these events into the company’s culture,” said Mariela Castillo, the foundation’s director of special events. “They bring together their friends, colleagues and anyone that’s involved with them, into the mission.”

The company’s business partners sponsored the event, some of which included Brocade, SwishData, StorageHawk, Falcon Printing and ENC Strategy.

The partnership with the foundation began in 2007 when two NetApp executives attended a fundraising event and decided to become sponsors. Since then, the company has raised $3.3 million for the foundation.

Miskin became a top individual fundraiser by starting a friendly competition with her friends. With many of her girlfriends apprehensive about her shave, she created two fundraising sites: one for those who did not want her to go bald and one for those that did. She raised $30,500.

But for Miskin, it’s more than losing hair. A co-worker’s five-year-old niece is going through rounds of chemotherapy to fight leukemia.

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